Kate Hawkesby: Has NZ given up on ambition and accountability?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Mar 2021, 11:17AM
Border workers are being given Covid-19 vaccinations by the Ministry of Health. Photo / Ministry of Health
Border workers are being given Covid-19 vaccinations by the Ministry of Health. Photo / Ministry of Health

Kate Hawkesby: Has NZ given up on ambition and accountability?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Mar 2021, 11:17AM

I just wonder if, as a country, we’ve given up on any kind of ambition or accountability.  

The pace of the vaccine rollout, the privacy details of those being vaccinated getting breached, the MIQ fees that remain unpaid.

I mean, do we even care anymore or have we just given up?

We’ve been told a goal of 2 million New Zealanders vaccinated by the middle of the year. We know the speed of the global vaccine rollout is critical. We know NZ has secured 10 million doses - but how fast are we jabbing?

Of the couple of hundred thousand doses we already have, only about 41,500 people have been vaccinated. We're not quite running at the UK, US, Israeli or Singapore pace.

Those countries are running clinics 24/7. They’re managing vaccinations as a high priority exercise.

Here? Not so much. The other day in Auckland there were long queues as hundreds waited in the hope of getting a vaccine shot. The average wait time was 90 minutes - whose got time for that?

So what’s the problem? Do we have enough people to jab? Are enough people trained to do it and ready to go? Are clinics doing long enough hours? At this rate I’m not sure how achievable the government’s goal will be.

But pace is not the only problem facing our vaccine rollout thus far. A computer error caused a glitch for Canterbury vaccine patients the other day, which resulted in 716 patients having their name, gender, age and NHI number up for view – accidentally.

So do we need trust issues on top of everything else with the vaccine rollout? Trust of course a big buzzword for this country’s Covid response.

And I just wonder how useful trust is right now as a concept? As opposed to watertight rules, double checking, and rigorous procedures.

I’m not just talking about privacy data, but also the high trust model employed with MIQ regards bill paying.

Imagine my surprise when I see there’s $3.7 million outstanding in overdue unpaid MIQ fees. Less than 50 percent of invoices issues have been paid. Is that a satisfactory strike rate? Is there even a strike rate? Or was that whole – 'hey you have to pay for your stay' – thing, just a suggestion? What follow up is being made on those invoices? What happens to all the overdue bills? Are there penalties?

As of last week, no overdue invoices had been followed up with any debt collection process. But the Ministry does send out letters. What does the letter say? 'Please could you pay, if you wouldn’t mind, if it's not too much trouble?'

Why bother having a user pays system if you’re not enforcing it? Why tell us vaccine details are private, if they’re not?

And why promise 2 million Kiwis will be jabbed by June, if that’s not going to happen either?